Stanley Ellin

Stanley Ellin (October 6, 1916 – July 31, 1986) was an American mystery writer. Ellin was born in Brooklyn, New York. After a brief tenure in the Army, at the insistence of his wife, Ellin began writing full time. While his novels are acclaimed, he is best known for his short stories. In May 1948, his first sale, and one of Ellin’s most famous short stories, “The Specialty of the House” (“Speciality of the House” in England), appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.


In the years to come, Ellin’s fame as an author grew. He was awarded three Edgar Allan Poe Awards (Edgar Award). His first Edgar was for the short story “The House Party” in 1954, the next for the short story “The Blessington Method” in 1956, and his third for the novel The Eighth Circle in 1959. Several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents were based on Ellin short stories, and his novels Dreadful Summit, House of Cards, and The Bind were adapted into feature films. Charles Silet writes that Ellin “did much toward erasing the distinctions between traditional genre and mainstream fiction by writing novels more concerned with character and locale than with plot.”


Ellin was a longtime member and past president of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA). In 1981, he was awarded the MWA’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award. Writing in The Times, Marcel Berlinssaid, “Stanley Ellin is the unsurpassed master of the short story in crime fiction.”


The Eighth Circle


The investigators of the Conmy-Kirk detective agency don’t work in trench coats, drink on the job, or carry pistols. They are researchers who comb newspapers and government records in search of the tiny details that could make or break their clients’ fortunes. It is painstaking and unromantic, but as co-owner Murray Kirk is about to learn, those details can mean the difference between life and death.


Stanley Ellin eight circle


The district attorney is cracking down on corruption in the NYPD, and the search is spreading like wildfire, forcing hundreds of policemen to resign in disgrace. When Conmy-Kirk is hired to clear the name of one of the accused, Kirk finds himself falling for his client’s daughter, a moral infraction that draws him deeper into the city’s underworld than he ever wanted to slip. This work isn’t like it is in the movies—if Murray Kirk catches a bullet, he’ll stay dead.




1948 – Dreadful Summit (aka The Big Night) (New York: Simon & Schuster)
1952 – The Key to Nicholas Street (New York: Simon & Schuster)
1958 – The Eighth Circle (New York: Random House) (Edgar Award for Best Novel, 1959)
1960 – The Winter after This Summer (New York: Random House)
1962 – The Panama Portrait (New York: Random House)
1967 – House of Cards (New York: Random House) – “a Hitchcockian psychological thriller with international intrigue”
1968 – The Valentine Estate (New York: Random House) (shortlisted for Edgar Award for Best Novel, 1969)
1970 – The Bind (aka The Man from Nowhere) (New York: Random House)
1972 – Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (New York: Random House)
1974 – Stronghold (New York: Random House)
1977 – The Luxembourg Run (New York: Random House)
1979 – Star Light, Star Bright (New York: Random House)
1983 – The Dark Fantastic (New York: Mysterious Press)
1985 – Very Old Money (New York: Arbor House)

Last updated on March 20, 2019

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